Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Milt Larsen writes in his preface of My Magical Journey – The First 30,000 Days, “Over the eight decades that I have been privileged to occupy space on this planet I have been on a fantasy train ride. The track always leads to magic and everything I have accomplished in life has been based on my upbringing in magic.”
This two hundred and ninety-five glossy page paperback book is an autobiography by Milt Larsen, the eighty-two year old co-founder of the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. With the front jacket cover having two white feathers in a gold pot on top of two books, there is no writing or information about its contents on the back cover. Inside there are plenty of old black and white along with newer color photographs of famous celebrities, the author and his family, homes lived in, buildings bought and revamped along with advertisements of magical plays, programs and performances.
Milt Larsen lives and breathes magic, day in and day out. In this memoir, it starts at the beginning discussing his lawyer father who met his mother during a magic show, sealing the deal for Larsen and his older brother to be exposed to all forms of magic in Southern California.
Larsen is quickly introduced to vaudeville, which is a long-life passion mentioned throughout the book. Having parents that hob-knobbed with well-known magicians, celebrities and actors, he and his brother Bill are brought up in a world unknown to most children and adults. By the age of six, he is assisting in his parent’s magic acts as he grows up with a theater in his backyard.
Knowing all facets of magic tricks, production and theater aspects, Larsen has a plethora of odd jobs helping his parents with their Genii Magazine magic catalogs, working for magic shops and being a comedy television writer for “Truth or Consequences.” After the passing of his father and his mother remarries, Bill and he buy and refurbish the Magic Castle, a member only venue of world renowned magicians.
Besides having Walt Disney as his role model, the writer mentions so many icons such as Cary Grant suggesting the wine list, Karl Malden showing up at his beach house, and Mae West requesting her usual seating arrangements. He recalls in great detail the several buildings they revamped into more theaters or museums to promote anything magic. Personal memories are mentioned about the death of his fiancé, his father and two step-fathers along his brother.
With most of the chapters broken down by decades, the author remembers his dilemma to open the Castle the night Kennedy is killed, the destruction of the 1971 earthquake and a fire that destroyed part of his building. One wishes topics and celebrities would be noted in an index for easy reference.
Even though the life history has repetition and jumping back and forth in time between the chapters, Larsen writes with clarity and comedy as the train of his life chugs along the magical rails of his extraordinary, interesting thirty thousand plus days on earth so far.
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